The Detroit Pistons' reported boycott of yesterday's morning shootaround has made headlines around the country and made the Pistons a national laughingstock. As word of the walkout has spread, more details about this bizarre situation continue to emerge.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski gives the most damning inside story, detailing the events that led to Richard Hamilton's benching and subsequent organization of the boycott. Hamilton reportedly got in head coach John Kuester's face at a practice, berating him with an expletive-filled tirade in front of the entire team. Among other things, he called Kuester a failure in Detroit and that he was "nothing more than a career assistant coach."
Several of the team’s younger players were mortified watching it and privately told agents and associates they wished they had the courage to stand up, confront Hamilton and try to take control back from the disgruntled veteran. Nevertheless, Hamilton influences a powerful lobby in the Pistons’ locker room, including veteran leaders Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace
Interesting side note: the Pistons players that showed up to Friday's shootaround (DaJuan Summers, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Ben Gordon, Greg Monroe and Will Bynum) are all fairly new to the team. They were not part of the "old guard" that helped the Pistons win the NBA title in 2004, so it's not surprising that they were the ones that showed up to work on Friday. I'd bet that they were the "mortified" ones that Wojnorowski refers to.
ESPN reported that the Pistons planned the walkout for their last game before the All-Star break, but called it off when they learned that Kuester was going to be fired over the weekend. Kuester emerged from the break with his job intact, and when nobody was dealt at the trade deadline, the boycott was back on for Friday.
Prior to Friday's game in Philadelphia, sources said, similar attempts were made by the same veterans to organize a teamwide no-show at the morning shootaround again, presumably in response to the fact that no trades were made before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline and the fact that Kuester was not let go.
One team source said that it was more of a "miscommunication" than a boycott, saying that forward Austin Daye had been told a different start time:
As for the reported boycott, one source said some of the players did not show up for Friday's shootaround because they were told the starting time had changed. Austin Dayewas one of the players who didn't show up on time because of the misunderstanding, the source said, but it wasn't clear how many other absent players were also confused.
"The team boycott idea is being overblown," the source said. "It was more miscommunication than defiance."
That could explain why Daye and point guard Rodney Stuckey showed up at the end of the shootaround, instead of missing the whole thing. Daye and Stuckey didn't play on Friday against Philadelphia, possibly mistaken for being part of the mutineers. In any case, Wojnorowski reports that fines are expected for players that did not have an excuse for missing practice.
ESPN writer Marc Stein was a-Twittering away last night about the whole fiasco. In one tweet, Stein said that Hamilton and Tayshaun need Kuester to stay rather than be axed as it could affect their next contract:
If I'm Rip/Tay/Big Ben, I'm prayin' Kuester DOESN'T walk now. Cause ushering a coach aside this way goes on their resumes in permanent ink
This situation is obviously not over yet, as Kuester is still in control of the team (for now). The Pistons have a game tonight at home against Utah, so it will definitely be of some interest to see if a) Kuester keeps to the six-man rotation, and b) how Pistons fans react to the team after seeing it turned into a joke.